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My daughter Elinor. A novel online

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the Angel.

"Don't; I never believe a woman under
oath."

" Ah, you can jest when my heart is break-
ing."

" Ta, ta ; broken hearts have gone out. I
can't cry with you, tears are not in my line ; but
I can help you. Do you come home with me — "

"But my clothes — all my things!" interrupt-
ed Miss Laidley.



MY DAUGHTER ELINOR.



219



" Bless me ! money bought them, money
would buy more," replied Indiana ; ' ' but there's
no talk of losing them that I know of. You
don't suppose people in the Greys' position are
going to be put in the papers for keeping a wom-
an's duds?"

" Well ?" questioned the Angel submissively.

"For the matter of that, we'll drive round
that way ; get what you want for morning, and
have Juanita pack the rest up. I'll wait in the
carriage while you do it."

" But if thev stop me — if they try to lock me
up?"

" Then you scream till you rouse the street.
I'll bring help enough, I promise you. I'll teach
that old smooth-tongued Secretary and his touch-
me-not daughter !" exclaimed the courageous
Banger.

The matter began to present itself in the light
of an adventure to the Angel and pleased her
accordingly. "I will do as you tell me," she
said ; "you are my only friend."

" Very well ; now get up, shake your dress
out, come clown stairs, and behave like a sensible
girl," replied Indiana, who had no mind to lose
her due share of the festivities, and was in high
spirits at her success. " Give me a woman that
can show a little courage and I'll go through
fire and water for her."

" I have no heart to dance, to be gay," sighed
the Angel.

" You don't dance with your heart," retorted
Indiana.

" Ah, how hard and stern you are," shivered
Miss Laidley ; "you can bear every thing ; you
are always ready to act ; you are granite — les
nerfs d'acier."

" I represent common sense and you romance,
that's all. Romance is very well, but it would
be apt to go to the wall if there weren't a few
peoplelike me left in the world," said the Bang-
er, speaking as if she were one of the last sur-
vivors of a race of Anakims or other rare creat-
ures of a superior mould to ordinary human nature.
" Hark ! Good Lord ! they're going in to sup-
per and here we are wasting our time."

She seized Miss Laidley by the arm and rush-
ed her down stairs, captured some luckless man
and forced him to make way for them among
the motley gi-oups that were streaming into the
supper-room, for the Banger required a good
deal of solid food to keep her powers of practical
judgment in working order. One of the Angel's
victims saw her and was happy to take cbarge
of her and she was led along in the wake of In-
diana, who, clutching her prisoner, looked as
warlike as if she were marching in her regal robes
at the head of an army and panted to meet the
foe. Genevieve glanced about for Rossitur, biit
he was not to be seen, therefore she thought she
was like tbe heroine of a novel, standing flower-
crowned with death in her heart, and was so in-
tensely wretched that she enjoyed it thoroughly.
By and by Elinor came up to her and the An-
gel shrank visibly from her touch and was mind-
ed to quote in an audible whisper something



about a basilisk — not that she knew what the an-
imal might be — but had no opportunity.

" The carriage has come," Elinor said quiet-
ly, instead of muttering imprecations or dis-
playing a dagger as the Angel would have pre-
ferred. " Are you ready to go, Genevieve ?"

It was aggravating to be brought down to
such common ground when she was giving free
rein to her fancy. "No, I'm not," snapped
she, forgetting to answer after the models afford-
ed by numberless heroines with whose expres-
sions she was familiar and often employed with
good effect.

"Go!" repeated Indiana, overhearing, and
speaking with a large bit of pate in her mouth ;
"of course the poor child doesn't wish to be
dragged away yet ; she is young enough to en-
joy the thing."

"I will send the carriage back for you, Gen-
evieve," continued Elinor, without noticing the
Banger.

"I will see you safe home, Miss Laidley,"
interposed the Banger fiercely, nearly choking
herself in her rage that she could not force Eli-
nor to be conscious of her rudeness.

" Oh, I don't wish to make any body any
trouble," said the AngeMn her most martyr-
like voice.

"It will be no trouble to me," cut in the
Banger ; "I may be unpolished, but I am not
selfishness incarnate."

" Oh, no, no, thank you, Mrs. Tallman," re-
turned the Angel, in a timid way. " Dear El-
inor, if you wish to go, of course I am ready — I
would not make trouble for the world."

"I will wait for you," said Elinor, seeing
that Miss Laidley had a disposition to make a
scene, and that the Banger asked nothing better
than to help her.

She went directly away to avoid further dis-
cussion, and endured patiently another two
hours, while the Angel waltzed and flirted with
scores of men and indulged in dark thoughts and
smothered sighs under laughter, and was in an
agony of happiness that would end in a fit of
hysterics before she could get back to the level
of ordinary life. At last Elinor thought she
had waited long enough, and meant to go unless
Miss Laidley was desirous to stay and see the
gas put out, but as she was about seeking her,
the young lady came up and said rudely — " You
needn't have waited to watch me ; you'll gain
nothing by it ; I am going back with Indiana
Tallman."

Elinor bowed courteously, asked somebody to
see that her carriage was called, and made her
way to the dressing-room, wondering how much
longer it would be necessary for her to endure
these daily increasing impertinences. She had
not complained to her father because the annoy-
ances were so petty that she had been ashamed
to cry out under them, as she would have been
ashamed under the prickings of a gnat, but of
late the young creature had been worse than a
whole swarm of the musical insects. She did
think that when Miss Laidley's majority ar-



L'20



MY DAUGHTER ELINOR.



rived, which it mercifully would in the course
of a few months, she should be justified in an-
nouncing that the same roof could not cover her
and that restless specimen of the angelic race
any longer. She drove home and forgot Miss
Laidley in the remembrance of the inexplicable
trouble she had seen in her father's eyes. Hen-
ry was up and met his mistress, as wakeful as
if all the poppies in Persia could not surprise
him into Blumber,

"Do you know whether my father has gone
to bed ?" Elinor asked.

Henry was certain that he had. He begged
to inform Mademoiselle that Monsieur had been
oblige to answer some dispatches ; had request-
ed a cup of tea, and desired that he might not
be disturbed.

She had seated herself in one of the reception-
rooms to hear theso details, and as Henry fin-
ished the Banger's carriage drove up. The
Hungarian Hew to open the door for Miss Laid-
ley before any impatient ring from a cross foot-
man could disturb his master. The Angel, be-
tween her trouble about Rossitur, her fatigue,
Indiana's sneers and persuasions, and the hys-
terical emotions which had become a positive
disease with her, was ready for a scene of the
most sensational kind.

" Mademoiselle is still down stairs, Mees
Laidley," said Henry, who to the Angel's dis-
gust always gave her that commonplace desig-
nation in contradistinction to the title which he
bestowed upon his mistress.

" Where is she ?" asked the Angel.

Henry waved her toward the reception-room
and she dashed past him before he could get to
the door, which with his usual exalted manner
he would have Hung wide open for her passage.
"What are you waiting here for?" demanded
she, sweeping up to Elinor. " Do you want to
spy and watcli me always ?"

This was too much in keeping with Miss Laid-
ley's manner and tone during the past fortnight
to excite any surprise on the part of her listener.
" I believe I shall say good-night, Miss Laidley ;
it is very late," said Elinor, rising.

The Angel stood still, not knowing exactly
how to continue, since her opening attempt at a
scene had failed signalty. " I am absolutely
afraid to sleep in the house with you !" she ex-
claimed, bursting into hysterical sobs. " I bc-
lievo you mean to murder me this night, and
have laid your plans."

Henry had remained in the hall waiting for
the young ladies to go up stairs that he might
put out the gas and make all things secure, and
naturally stood open-mouthed at th;it remarka-
ble speech. Elinor walked toward the door
without making any reply.

"Help ! help !" cried Miss Laidley. " She's
going to lock mo in here ! I won't bo locked
in! Help! help !"

Scenes equally exciting Elinor had so often
passed through that she was not in the least
alarmed for Miss Laidlcy's sanity, as a stranger
might have been by her words and gestures.



"Henry," she said calmly, "go to Juanita'.*
room and send her down."

The Hungarian rushed noiselessly away, dis-
cussing in hismind whether the young heiress was
a little tocquee or grisee — he thought in French,
and I put the words in that language because
the last was not a pretty term to apply to an an-
gel ; but that wicked old Henry had known hu-
man seraphs of high degree capable of such very
queer freaks and indulgences that he sometimes
held improper thoughts in regard to them and
their actions.

" I won't be left here with you !" cried Miss
Laidley. "You shan't kill me! What are
you hiding your hand in your dress for ? I be-
lieve you've a dagger there ! Do you mean to
stab me ?"

"Don't scream, please," said Elinor; "my
father is probably asleep, and you would not
care to treat him to one of these scenes."

" I would ! I will ! I won't be murdered !
Scenes, indeed ! Am I to be stabbed without
resistance? Help! help!" repeated Miss Laid-
ley, making a rush forward as if she meant to
tear through the halls and rouse every sleeper in
the house,

" Positively, Genevieve, if you don't stop this
instant I will lock you in here," said Elinor,
losing patience ; " you are too absurd."

" Wretch ! Fiend ! Vile murderess !" moan-
ed Miss Laidley, giving full vent to her hyster-
ics, and rapidly getting beyond power of self-
control. Elinor was afraid of her getting out
on the staircase and screaming till every soul
under the roof would be wakened and rush down
in terror that the dwelling was on fire at least.
She wanted to keep her where she was till
Juanita appeared, trusting that the old woman
could soot he her as usual, and having compassion
enough on the girl to desire that she should not
make herself utterly ridiculous in the eyes of the
servants. "Hush, I beg; Juanita will be here
in a moment," said she.

" Let me out ! Let me out !" screamed Miss
Laidley, making a dash at her as she stood in
the door-way and pushing her aside with such
violence that she hurt her.

"Miss Laidley, this is insupportable," ex-
claimed Elinor, putting her handout to prevent
herself being jammed against the door-post.

Miss Laidley bounded aside and managed to
tear her gauze raiment to a deplorable extent.
She ran through the hall and flung open the out-
er doors, and Elinor, beginning to think she had
gone mad at last, ran after her and tried to hold
her back from rushing down the steps. " Mrs.
Tallman! Mrs. Tallman !" called the Angel
despairingly. Elinor became conscious that the
carriage was still before the entrance, and that
the Banger's head was thrust out of the win-
dow. She comprehended at once that the whole
scene had been arranged between the pair, re-
leased Miss Laidley, and stepped back into the
vestibule. "Mrs. Tallman!" cried the Angel
again. "Help! help!"

The Banger, who had been eagerly waiting



MY DAUGHTER ELINOR.



221



for some catastrophe, was overjoyed at a sight
like that. Out of the carriage she sprang, up
the steps she flew, dashed into the vestibule and
clasped Miss Laidley in her arms, exclaiming —
"You are safe — I am here! What does this
mean ? Miss Grey, I saw you push this un-
fortunate creature out-of-doors."

"Look at my dress," sobbed Miss Laidley;
" she has almost torn it off me ! She pushed me
and struck me — I do believe she had a dagger
in her hand ! Take me away — if you have any
mercy, take me away!"

" At once ; come, poor child," returned Indi-
ana. " Miss Grey, I leave explanations for to-
morrow."

In spite of her anger the absurdity of the
whole thing struck Elinor so forcibly that she
laughed. "I hope Miss Laidley has them to
offer," said she. "Excuse me if I close the
doors."

"Notonme!" cried the Banger. "Youcan't
frighten me ! I'll call my servants. You can't
shut me in your murdering house!"

"I should be sorry to do so, Madam," said
Elinor. " Good-night, Miss Laidley ; of course
you must consult your own pleasure whether you
go or stay." She walked back through the hall,
and meeting Henry and Juanita on the stairs,
bade him follow her and motioned the old woman
to go on. The end was not what the Angel had
expected ; both she and the Banger felt a good
deal sobered by finding themselves clasped in
each other's arms in ba.'l-dress and standing in
a windy vestibule at that time of night with no
enemy to confront.

"You must go with me, my love; you can't
stay in this house," said the Banger in a high key.

" Oh, take me away, take me away !" sobbed
the Angel.

" What'e matter — what'e matter?" cried
Juanita, running to them. " Come in'e house,
young Senora — catch her death. Come to Juan-
ita, poor dear — got'e nerves again ?"

"It is not a case of nerves, my good creat-
ure," said Indiana, "but of fright and ill-treat-
ment. Look at her dress, half torn off her."

"Oh, de Lord, de Lord!" groaned Juanita.
" Come in, young Senora, come in. Oh, de
Lord!"

Miss Laidley gave free vent to her sobs, and
Juanita, not knowing what to make of the scene,
or what she was expected to do, stood muttering
and flinging her arms about.

" Go pick up your mistress's cloak," said the
Banger; "that has been torn off her too. Come,
my poor child ; I couldn't answer to my con-
science if I left you here alone ; Heaven only
knows where this would have ended if I had not
chanced to wait, stopped by a foreboding of evil."

" Oh ! oh !" sobbed Miss Laidley.

" De Lord, de Lord !" muttered Juanita, con-
scious there was a play being acted and certain
that her mistress expected her to take a part,
but from not having been instructed at a loss
how to perform, so she danced about and uttered
monkey cries.



" The cloak !" ordered the Banger, and Juan-
ita ran and picked it up from the hall floor
where the Angel had thrown it, and wrapped it
about her mistress.

"My servants witnessed the outrage," said the
Banger, in an elevated voice ; ' ' when witness-
es are needed they will be ready. Come, love."

"She tried to murder me," gasped the Angel.
Oh, my clothes — I can't leave my clothes," she
whispered.

"I'll bring some in a bundle 'fore morning,"
hissed Juanita; " I'll getout'e window."

The idea struck Indiana as a telling one — she
to rescue the sufferer and the faithful serving-
woman to follow in the late watches of the night,
escaping at the risk of her life from the house,
with a change of apparel for the mistress whom
she idolized. The coachman and footman seat-
ed on the box had not the slightest idea what
was going on, only that their mistress and the
young woman seemed in a "great twitter " about
something when nobody was visible. "James !"
called Indiana. James sprang from his perch
and opened the carriage door ; the Banger per-
ceiving there was no hope of Miss Grey's re-ap-
pearance, and no design on that lady's part to
notice them in any way, led the moaning Angel
down the steps and they entered the carriage
and were driven off, obliged to look to the telling
of the story for success. Juanita flew up stairs
to her mistress's rooms and bolted the doors upon
herself; Elinor sent the stupefied Plenry down
to settle matters for the night, saying only —
" See that Juanita goes early in the morning
to Mrs. Tallman's with some clothes for her mis-
tress."

" Certainly, Mademoiselle," Henry answered.

Elinor's first thought was to waken her father
and tell him what had happened, but it could do
no good, and she would not disturb his rest. By
morning Miss Laidley would probably have re-
turned to her senses. She knew that the Banger
would spread the most horrible reports abroad,
but after all, Miss Laidley, in decency and out
of regard for herself, must either return to the
house or go back to Jamaica. Her father would
arrange it — this time she could not spare him
the annoyance — but indeed the whole thing was
too miserable to think about. It had been an
evening of such disgusting events : as the rec-
ollection of them came up, Elinor's cheeks burn-
ed to remember the words Leighton Rossitur
had dared to utter. Of that scene she must also
tell her father — at least so much as would con-
vince him concerning the man's real character.
The coarse threat he had employed she would
not give a place in her mind ; it was too con-
temptible as applied to the parent whom all her
life she had regarded as much removed from the
weaknesses of ordinary natures as if he had been
a god. That he had anxieties which he con-
cealed from her she was certain, though of what
nature she could not divine. Perhaps only the
troubles inseparably connected with his duties ;
and that made her reflect that unless MissLaidlcy
chose to come to her senses and show the falsity



00<>



MY DAUGHTER ELINOR.



of the reports by returning to the house, there
might be no end to the gossip, the newspaper
hints and allusions which would be spread from
Indiana Tallinan's stories. Indefinitely she con-
nected Leighton Rossitur with this matter too;
she was confident that he had been holding a
secret correspondence with Miss Laidley, and
probably by his conduct had excited her to this
last step. But the whole matter was a weari-
ness, and of no importance beyond the fact that
it might annoy her father ; what her own share
in the reports would be she could not pretend to
care, other than as it made an added annoyance
for him.

She went to bed at last and fell asleep. Hav-
ing of late somewhat relaxed her rigid discipline
in regard to hours, Coralie. the devoted, peeped
in, and seeing her asleep did not disturb her.
The consequence was that she did not wake till
what she deemed a preposterous hour, and sum-
moning the maid desired her to go at once and
beg her father not to leave the house until she
had spoken with him. The first thought in her
mind had been Miss Laidley's performance, for
the young woman had haunted her dreams and
acted melodramas in costumes that varied with
every move she made, while Indiana Tallman
looked on approvingly from a lofty throne where
she sat with a square gold tower on her forehead
for a crown, wearing a harlequin's dress instead
of the regal robes which might have been expect-
ed to accompany the chair of state and diadem.
Leighton Rossitur had been there too — it was
Rossitur, but it was Mephistopheles also — and
very handsome he looked, only Elinor saw that
he had a forked tongue as he laughed at Miss
Laidley's antics. The Idol was there; the old
deaf lady who somebody had told her was dead
was present, lying in her coffin, and by mistake
the coffin was taken for a supper-table, and the
corpse sat up, a grinning skeleton, and pointed
at her father who suddenly appeared on the scene,
lie was so white and changed that at first she
hardly knew him, and then she was thrown into
an agony of terror by his clinging to her and im-
ploring her to save him from a gulf that opened
where the ball-room had been, looking down
which, she saw only a horrible blackness, from
whence came up the sound of the waltzes the
orchestra had played. It was all as mixed and
absurd as dreams usually are after excitement,
but somehow it made Elinor shiver to recall it,
and, plainer than any sight, she beheld her fa-
ther's white face as his head sank on her shoul-
der in that helplessness which, in her dream, she
had heard a voice from the black gulf call a liv-
ing death.

In answer to her request, Coralie said that
Mr. Grey had already departed. He had risen
earlier than was his habit and gone out directly !
after drinking his coffee, and had desired Cora-
lie to say to her mistress that he was so much
hurried by business he could not wait to see her.
If Mademoiselle pleased, Hungarian Henry
wished to speak with her as soon as she could
conveniently so far honor him.



Elinor was annoyed at this fresh delay, and
in doubt what course to pursue in regard to Miss
Laidley. " Bring me my chocolate and tell
Henry to come up," she said, when the toilet
process was over and she had at length estab-
lished herself before a sunny window in her
dressing-room.

Henry appeared, taking advantage of the op-
portunity to bring the chocolate himself, for he
and Coralie were always waging an amicable
warfare as to which should have the felicity of
ministering to their mistress's wants.

" Coralie said you wanted to speak to me,
Henry," said Elinor, as he set the tray on the
table before her.

"Since Mademoiselle is so good. If she
pleases, the waiting-woman of Mees Laidley left
the house by a back window, and it was open
till the cook went down stairs."
" Do the servants know, Henry ?"
"No, Mademoiselle; I said nothing about
the mulatto, though the moment they told me I
knew it was her work and not a thief's. If
Mademoiselle pleases, she came back quite early,
and as good luck would have it, I saw her first."
" Did she say why she went out ?"
" To carry clothes to the Mees, she said. At
present she have made up the boxes of the Mees,
and is clamoring to have them taken down
stairs and put on a coach that has come."

" Very well, if Miss Laidley has ordered her
to do so."

" It was why I wished to speak to Made-
moiselle."

"Did you tell my father that Miss Laidley
had gone home with Mrs. Tallman ?"

"Pardon; I was not able. Monsieur sent
me out with letters that no other might deliver ;
Monsieur bad borne himself away before I was
of return."

It was a very tiresome piece of business al-
together, and really there seemed nothing to be
done at present. Her father Avould be back in
the course of the morning, and he alone could
go and learn what might be the meaning of this
remarkable conduct on Miss Laidley's part.
"You will say to the servants, Henry, that
Miss Laidley has gone on a visit to Mrs. Tall-
nwn," was all she said.

"I have made so already, if Mademoiselle
pleases."

" Thank you; that is all, I believe."
He bowed and retired, a statue of propriety to
the last, but as soon as he had seen Juanitaand
the boxes safely out of the house, he and Cor-
alie fell into a wonderment and discussion that
they would not have betrayed to the inferior
domestics for the bribe of twin annuities.
Coralie had kept watch over Juanita from the
moment of her return, to see that she did not
talk to the other servants, though what was the
matter neither she nor Henry had the least idea.
To speak of the matter to Miss Grey was some-
thing neither would have dreamed of doing, so
they went about devoured by a very natural
curiosity, and only abLj. to decide that Miss



MY DAUGHTER ELINOR.



223



Laidlcy must have had a worse fit of lunacy
than usual.

" She must have been ill to the utmost when
she could rend her robe," said Coralie, when
Henry described the state it had been in.
"Many of the hysterics I have regarded her
do, but the robe was well defended at the
worst."

Henry did not hesitate to confide his suspi-
cions that she had indulged too freely at sup-
per, but Coralie being young yet, and not hav-
ing such experience as the Hungarian, was
somewhat shocked thereat. However, they
united in the opinion that she was a small
deviless of the most atrocious description, and
that the patience with which Mademoiselle had
supported her follies, retaining them even from
Monsieur himself, was a proof of goodness such
as no human creature except their ravishing
Mademoiselle could have exhibited.



CHAPTER XLII.

MARRIED LIKE A HEROINE.

The night had not been the bearer of fairy
dreams to Mr. Grey, nor had his bed been of
roses, though, metaphorically, he had during his
whole life been much accustomed to strewing
his couch therewith. The time was come when
he must take a stand and deliberately choose
whether his place should be by the President's



Online LibraryFrank Lee] [BenedictMy daughter Elinor. A novel → online text (page 48 of 57)